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A monumental week
Weekly column by LGAQ CEO, Greg Hallam
I just felt the earth move.
In the past 24 hours, the Queensland Government has committed to a zero waste to landfill future, and a waste to energy strategy. This is after the LGAQ ran extra hard yesterday afternoon, and this morning, in all media formats, on the need for an urgent circuit breaker following Ipswich City Council’s difficult decision to abandon recycling.
The Council has been slugged with a five fold increase in the cost of providing that service, arising out of the collapse of the China recycling market.
I met with the Deputy Premier and Treasurer, and Minister for Environment at 1pm today, to discuss these matters, and then participated in a media conference shortly thereafter.
In truth, I wrote this column yesterday, and it read very differently.
It was doom and gloom.
I wrote about how the China recycling market had collapsed, and how our members were facing additional recycling costs of $40-50m per year when recycling contracts caught up with the China situation.
Now there is a way forward.
The LGAQ was ready for this debate, and had well and truly prepared for this opportunity, if, and when, it ever came.
It arrived, and we pounced.
Let me be clear about a number of things.
The LGAQ is opposed to a landfill levy on domestic waste. Secondly, we don’t support any expansion of the councils’ areas to be subject to the levy. If your council wasn’t caught by the levy last time, it shouldn’t be this time around.
After today’s meetings, we will give consideration to a 1 January 2019 start for the levy, as opposed to a 30 June 2019 kick off. Your Association is opposed to any of the levy going into State consolidated revenue. It should go to councils and the recycling industry. First, and foremost, it should fund the move to waste to energy plants.
For its part, the LGAQ is dusting off and updating an LGIS report on waste to energy options completed in 2013.That work will be completed by the end of May and shared with councils. The LGAQ will continue to participate in the State Government’s multi party stakeholders discussions on implementing the Waste Levy.
We will stick to our principals outlined above.
We will also participate in a State Government detailed waste to energy plant feasibility study.
Finally, we will consider organising an overseas study trip to visit operating plants in the U.K, U.S.A and Canada.
As I said from the outset, today was monumental.
There is a way forward if we all work together and embrace change, and a different model for waste management and recycling.
Better still, with a united approach over the next 6-12 months, we can make our communities and Queensland a better place for our kids, grandkids and generations to come.
It’s ours to grasp. What neither I, nor the LGAQ will do, is leave local government worse off.
Finally, on a sad note, all of local government is mourning the sudden death last Friday of all round good guy Hastings Deering State Sales Manager, Glen (Shanno) Shannen.
He was a regular around councils, and always attended and spoke at our LGAQ Annual Conference. Our condolences go to his wife and children.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006